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Quantum computers are a threat to cyber security?

A quantum computer is a computer which stores information with the help of quantum states of subatomic particles. The Universities Space Research Association, NASA and Google recently joined the very short list of organizations which have access to quantum computers and quantum computing. Is today’s encryption in danger for the future of computers?Quantum Computers

A scientist in the movie Sneakers, creates a device which can break the strongest encryption too. The following line is from Hollywood’s best five-second explanation of cryptography, stating:


Cryptographic systems are based on mathematical problems so complex they cannot be solved without a key.

That made the co-conspirator wonder that the scientist could have worked a way around to solve those problems without the need of a key. The Later, Robert Redford’s character realizes that the particular device isn’t just another code breaker, but it is the ultimate code breaker. Fortunately the device has just been an imagination, fiction. But the statements which were stated about cryptography and its foundation, were true and will remain to be true.

Fast-forwarding, a few decades in 1992 encryption were still not so much dependent on computational infeasibility. But there is a surprise, the keys have become bigger. To add a single bit to the size of the key, the time would almost double to crack it, making large keys sufficiently and effectively impossible to break. In today’s work cracking a key which is 512-Bit RSA will cost one less that buying a certificate to sign codes. It can also be completed in a few days, this made 1024 Bits and 2048 Bits a recommendation. But what if a day comes where no RSA keys is big to offer a decent security level.

Also Read: Google and Novartis partners to develop a wearable smart lens.

Recently it was read that the Universities Space Research Association and Google are planning to collaborate to buy a quantum computer and operate it from D-Wave Systems which would be hosted at NASA’s own Ames Research Center. A quantum computer is a very powerful computer, but it’s significantly different from other computers. Quantum bits or qubits are tiny physical systems arranged by the quantum computer to be entangles to each other.

Peter Shor in 1994 then-Bell Labs scientist formulated a special algorithm for factorization of integers which could run on quantum computers in polynomial time. This has been compared with sub-exponential time on a classical computer with the best known algorithm. “Polynomial time” means that as the size of the problem increases the time required to solve it increases too when compared to higher time complexities, where the needed run time becomes absurd in no time.

Quantum computers are making our advanced way of encrypting redundant at the same time quantum mechanics are opening a door to a more encrypted world of communication; more secure than today’s world. After breaking and making trillions of codes there is still a type of encryption scheme is probably is unbreakable as of now. The one-time key protocol is the only encryption scheme which is not being broken still.

The main reason behind it is the list of random numbers which are secretly shared in-between the parties which makes the encoding and decoding of the key a secret. Distribution of Quantum key has now become a commercial business for many companies. In the end, the modern encryption algorithms can be broken by quantum computers. But at the same time quantum computers leads to a new way of secure communications. This ideology will soon be implemented in my technologies.

About John W Arthur

John is the head of our IT Security team and he writes about Security, IT news on The Next Digit. He was the Employee of the Year 2013 for his selfless support and efficiently setting up the whole security infrastructure. He also occasionally writes on "IT Sec Pro" Print Media of Sweden. All posts by John

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